Month: November 2015

Children, Sugar, and Cavities

Children love sugar.  They crave it and can eat in huge quantities!  They will choose sugar over almost anything, so as parents we need to minimize sugary options.

Simple sugars are the main cause of oral health problems.  Sugars feed the harmful bacteria in the mouth and causes tooth decay, periodontal disease, and even bad breath.

Our body’s immune system can handle harmful bacteria growth without much issue unless sugar is consumed too frequently or in great quantities.  So that is what I look for when I evaluate a child’s risk for dental problems – the frequency and quantity of sugar consumed.

I think it’s best to start with drinks.  It’s really easy to consume hundreds of calories of sugar in minutes by drinking sugary drinks.

When I was growing up, juices were  considered by most a healthy option.  I think now, most people agree juice has little to no health advantages.  There is a ton of sugar and none of the fiber from the actual fruit.  You can also drink it really fast so that you drink too much.  Or even worse, you can drink it slowly so that you are supplying a constant stream of nutrition to the harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Thousand Oaks Dentist Justin Sycamore DDS Kids and Sugar

Baby Bottle Decay

There is a condition called baby bottle caries where an infant is put to bed with a bottle of juice or milk and over a brief period of time all the front teeth are completely rotten.

Soda is even worse!  It has all the sugar of juice plus it is acidic so it demineralizes the enamel at the same time that the teeth are about to be attacked by sugar loving bacteria.  I won’t even mention energy drinks. (Just don’t!)

As you can tell, I am not a fan of juice or soda.  I don’t allow my child to drink either at home.  If we, as parents do one thing for our children’s oral and general health, it should be to get them  accustomed to drinking water.  They will hate it at first but they will thank you later.

Milk is good from time to time.  It has a lot of good things in it.  But it also has lactose which breaks down into glucose, a simple sugar.  So it is good but water is better.

Fruits are great.  They are sweet and delicious.  They have a lot of vitamins and fiber.  So that’s great.  But watch out for dried fruits like raisins! Raisins have concentrated sugar and are very sticky.  They stick to the grooves of the teeth and keep the sugar on the teeth for hours!  So always brush after eating dried fruit!

Starchy foods cause big problems.  Foods like white rice, potatoes, white bread, and pastas also easily break down into simple sugars and often times get stuck between teeth.  We often don’t think of them to be as harmful as other sugary food but they can xylitolbe.

Candy is bad for us in many ways but it tastes so good!  Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that prevents cavities.  It actually prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.  It can be found in a lot of gums and mints.  If you use it 3-5 times a day you can see a decrease in cavities.  I have xylitol lollipops in my office.  While they do prevent cavities, they still have a lot of calories so don’t go crazy!

Oral hygiene helps when a child indulges.  So brush, floss, and mouth wash after consuming sugar!

Bad Breath Causes and Remedies

A lot of patients ask me about bad breath.  Its the worst.  Certain people are more prone to bad breath than others.  Sadly, I frequently have bad breath but I’ve learned some ways to minimizing it.

First we need to talk about the causes of bad breath!  It can be caused by food we eat, poor oral hygiene, tooth decay or infection, or even health problems.

Certain foods, like garlic and onions have strong odors that can persist in the mouth and cause bad breath directly.  Other foods which contain simple sugars can be broken down  and fuel the normally existing bacteria of the mouth, to create an indirect odor.  Its important to determine what kind of foods cause us to have bad breath and avoid them.  There is a great deal of variation throughout the population so some trial and error is necessary.  Also cutting down on foods high in sugar is important too.

There is a lot of bacteria in our bodies.  Some of it is good and is called normal flora.  It helps us digest food and usually doesn’t cause any problems.  There are more problematic bacteria as well.  If we don’t clean our teeth regularly, the bacteria can multiply and cause a lot of problems like tooth decay, periodontal disease and bad breath.  So regular brushing and flossing will keep the bacteria counts down and reduce dental problems.  Also the tongue can be a haven for bacteria so we need to keep it clean too!

Xerostomia is a fancy way to say dry mouth.  As we are living longer and taking more medications, xerostomia is becoming more prevalent.  This is because a side effect of many medications is dry mouth.  This is a tricky problem because you can’t stop taking your doctor prescribed medication.  But there are a few things we can do to keep our mouths hydrated.  The first is to drink a lot of water.  The other is to use products which are created for just this problem.  Biotene is a great product that many of my patients have tried and have had success in combating dry mouth.

Last I want to share two products that I personally use daily.  I really like them and recommend them to my patients all the time.  I buy them from Amazon because the price is the best but you can buy them at nearly any drug store.Dr. Justin Sycamore DDS Bad Breath with Tongue ScraperThousand Oaks Dentist Justin Sycamore DDS Fight Bad Breath with TheraBreath Mouthwash

The first is Dr. Tung’s tongue scraper.  It is awesome and is dishwasher safe and should last almost forever.  I use it several times a week.  If you have a few minutes you should read the reviews on amazon.  There are a few that are hilarious.

The second is TheraBreath.  I use this everyday.  It is alcohol free and uses chlorine (ClO2) as its active ingredient.  I used Listerine for years but I’ve found this to be much better.  I’m a big fan.

Bad breath stinks but with a little knowledge and effort we can minimize its impact on our lives!

Office News

A Little Update

I have been really busy lately and haven’t had a chance to make a formal blog entry so I will make a little update today about two exciting things that happened recently.

The Halloween Candy Buyback was a really big success. I wasn’t sure if anyone would come, but we had a big turnout and collected well over 100 pounds of candy! So thanks to everyone who came and supported the buyback! It was pretty amazing to see that much candy in a pile. It took up most of our storage closet. So I feel really happy about our event.

The other great thing that happened was I got to volunteer with a group called Thousand Smiles which helps kids who were born with cleft lip and cleft palate. They head down to Mexico several times a year to put on all volunteer clinics. It’s a pretty incredible organization! I believe it’s supported by the Rotary Club. There is a surgical unit which takes the children to a local hospital and repairs the cleft lips and palates and then there is a dental team which does all of the dental work including orthodontics and implants. I got to spend part of the week in Ensenada, Mexico where I could be part of this great team of surgeons, nurses, and dentists who volunteer their time for those who really need help. So it was a great time and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year!